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Twelfth Night Navigator: Notable Quotes


If music be the food of love, play on (1.1.1)
—In the opening speech of the play, Duke Orsino gives vent to his deliciously impossible love-longing for the Lady Olivia.




I am sure care's an enemy to life (1.3.2-3)
—Sir Toby's comment on the foolishness of his niece, Olivia, devoting her life to mourning for her dead brother.


I'll confine myself no finer than I am (1.3.10-11)
—Sir Toby Belch, told to control ("confine") himself, replies with a pun, saying that his clothes are good enough to drink in.


I have them at my fingers' ends (1.3.78)
—Maria, touching Sir Andrew Aguecheek's hand, says that she has a world of jests readily available.


Methinks sometimes I have no more wit than a Christian or an ordinary man has (1.3.83-84)
—Sir Andrew Aguecheek worriedly responds to Sir Toby Belch's comment that Maria has put him down (made a joke at Sir Andrew's expense).




I am a great eater of beef, and I believe that does harm to my wit (1.3.84-86)
—The witless Sir Andrew Aguecheek tries to analyze his problem.


Is it a world to hide virtues in? (1.3.131)
—Sir Toby Belch encourages Sir Andrew Aguecheek to dance by telling him that he ought to display his abilities ("virtues").


O, had I but followed the arts! (1.3.94)
—The ignorant Sir Andrew Aguecheek bemoans his lack of education.


And all is semblative a woman's part (1.4.34)
—Orsino, sending Cesario (Viola in disguise) to woo the Lady Olivia, tells him (her) that he (she) is very like a woman, and therefore will be more appealing than he would be.


Whoe'er I woo, myself would be his wife (1.4.42)
—Viola (in disguise as Cesario), having promised to woo the Lady Olivia on Orsino's behalf, reflects on her dilemma.


Many a good hanging prevents a bad marriage (1.5.19)
—The Clown's witty reply to Maria's threat that he could be hung or turned out of the house.


He is very well-favoured and he speaks very shrewishly; one would think his mother's milk were scarce out of him (1.5.159-162)
—Malvolio's description of the the young man, Cesario (Viola in disguise), who insists on speaking with Olivia.


we will draw the curtain and show you the picture (1.5.233-234)
—Viola agrees to lift her veil and show her face to the insistent young man, Cesario (Viola in disguise).


Make me a willow cabin at your gate (1.5.268)
—Cesario (Viola in disguise) says what he would do to win Olivia's love.


Oh Time, thou must untangle this, not I.
It is too hard a knot for me t' untie! (2.2.40-41)
—Viola's comment about the love triangle in which she has become involved.


not to be a-bed after midnight is to be up betimes (2.3.2)
—Sir Toby Belch's joking justification of staying up and carousing all night.


O mistress mine, where are you roaming?
O, stay and hear; your true love's coming (2.3.39-40)
—The opening of the clown's song on the carpe diem theme.


Then come kiss me, sweet and twenty,
Youth's a stuff will not endure (2.3.51-52)
—The conclusion of the clown's song on the carpe diem theme.


Am I not consanguineous? am I not of her blood? (2.3.77)
—Sir Toby Belch's statement of his right to carouse in his niece's house.


He does it with a better grace, but I do it more natural (2.3.83)
—Sir Andrew Aguecheek compares his foolery with Sir Toby Belch's.


Is there no respect of place, persons, nor time in you? (2.3.91-92)
—Malvolio's indignant question to Sir Toby and his hard-partying crew.


Dost thou think, because thou art virtuous, there shall be no more cakes and ale? (2.3.115-116)
—Sir Toby's mockery of Malvolio's self-important righteousness.


My purpose is, indeed, a horse of that colour (2.3.167)
—Maria's response when Sir Toby catches on to her plan to make a fool of Malvolio.


I was adored once too (2.3.181)
—Poor Sir Andrew Aguecheek's wistful reply to Sir Toby's statement that Maria adores him (Sir Toby, not Sir Andrew).


Now, good Cesario, but that piece of song,
That old and antique song we heard last night (2.4.2-3)
—Orsino asks for a melancholy love song.


                     Let still the woman take
An elder than herself (2.4.29-30)
—Orsino gives love-advice to Cesario.


Mark it, Cesario, it is old and plain;
The spinsters and the knitters in the sun
And the free maids that weave their thread with bones
Do use to chant it: it is silly sooth,
And dallies with the innocence of love,
Like the old age (2.4.43-48)
—Orsino's description of a favorite love song.


Now, the melancholy god protect thee; and the tailor make thy doublet of changeable taffeta, for thy mind is a very opal (2.4.73-75)
—The Clown's ironic comment on Orsino's moody taste for melancholy music and love.


She sat like Patience on a monument,
Smiling at grief (2.4.114-115)
—Viola (in her disguise as Cesario) tells Orsino a story illustrating the constancy of women in love.


Now is the woodcock near the gin (2.5.83)
—Fabian's gleeful comment as Malvolio picks up the letter that Maria dropped for him to find.


Some are born great, some achieve greatness, and some have greatness thrust upon 'em (2.5.144-146)
—Malvolio reads from the letter that Maria wrote. He thinks it's from the Lady Olivia and thinks that the greatness of being the Lady's husband is about to be given to him. (Later Malvolio repeats (3.4.41-45) this line to Lady Olivia, and towards the end of the play the Clown mocks Malvolio by repeating (5.1.370-371) it again.)


Remember who commended thy yellow stockings, and wished to see thee ever cross-gartered (2.5.152-154)
—Maria's letter (supposedly from the Lady Olivia) instructs Malvolio to wear a style of stockings and garters which Olivia detests.


This fellow is wise enough to play the fool
And to do that well craves a kind of wit (3.1.60-61)
—Viola's comment on the intelligence of the Clown's folly.


O world! how apt the poor are to be proud (3.1.127)
—Lady Olivia, having failed to wring a confession of love from the beautiful boy, Cesario (Viola in disguise), says that at least she has nothing more to worry about, but realizes that she's grasping at straws.


O! what a deal of scorn looks beautiful
In the contempt and anger of his lip (3.1.145-46)
—Lady Olivia's comment on "Cesario."


Love sought is good, but giv'n unsought is better (3.1.156)
—The Lady Olivia, having declared her love for Cesario (Viola in disguise), says that he ought to love her back, because her love is a gift.


You are now sailed into the north of my lady's opinion; where you will hang like an icicle on a Dutchman's beard (3.2.26-28)
—Fabian, talking Sir Andrew into challenging Cesario to duel, tells Sir Andrew that he has fallen out of the Lady Olivia's favor.


as many lies as will lie in thy sheet of paper, although the sheet were big enough for the bed of Ware in England (3.2.46-48)
—Fabian gives Sir Andrew Aguecheek advice about what to put in his letter to Cesario, to make it properly insulting.


Look, where the youngest wren of nine comes (3.2.66-67)
—Thus Sir Toby announces the entrance of Maria, who is a very small person.


He does smile his face into more lines than is in the new map with the augmentation of the Indies (3.2.78-80)
—Maria's description of Malvolio's desperate attempt to make himself pleasing to the Lady Olivia.


I think we do know the sweet Roman hand (3.4.28)
—Malvolio, speaking to the Lady Olivia, says that he knows she wrote the love-letter, because he recognizes the handwriting.


Why, this is very midsummer madness (3.4.56)
—Lady Olivia's comment on Malvolio's wooing of her by quoting what he thinks her own words.


Go, hang yourselves all! you are idle shallow things: I am not of your element (3.4.123-124)
—Malvolio's bitter response to the mocking attempts of Maria, Fabian, and Sir Toby to care for him, because the Lady Olivia believes he's gone mad.


If this were played upon a stage now, I could condemn it as an improbable fiction (3.4.127-128)
—Fabian expresses his appreciation of the success of Maria's plot to make a fool of Malvolio.


More matter for a May morning (3.4.142)
—Sir Toby's comment on the arrival of Sir Andrew Aguecheek, with his letter challenging Cesario to a duel.


Still you keep o' the windy side of the law (3.4.164-65)
—Sir Toby's facetious praise of Sir Andrew's letter challenging Cesario to a duel.


Nay, let me alone for swearing (3.4.183)
—Sir Andrew's boast that he's really good at cursing.


I hate ingratitude more in a man
Than lying, vainness, babbling, drunkenness,
Or any taint of vice whose strong corruption
Inhabits our frail blood (3.4.354-357)
—Cesario (Viola in disguise) defends himself against Antonio's charge of ingratitude.


                  This youth that you see here
I snatch'd one half out of the jaws of death (3.4.359-360)
—Antonio, seeing Viola disguised as Cesario, thinks he's talking about Sebastian, Viola's twin.


In nature there's no blemish but the mind;
None can be called deformed but the unkind (3.4.367-368)
—Antonio's bitter commentary on the ingratitude of the beautiful boy who he thinks is Sebastian.


What relish is in this? How runs the stream?
Or I am mad, or else this is a dream.
Let fancy still my sense in Lethe steep;
If it be thus to dream, still let me sleep! (4.1.60-64)
—Sebastian's confused and happy reaction to the discovery that the beautiful Olivia, who he has never seen before, is in love with him.


leave thy vain bibble babble (4.2.96)
—The Clown, pretending to be a Welch priest, advises Malvolio to top talking like a crazy man.


Thus the whirligig of time brings in his revenges (5.1.376-377)
—The Clown's reminder to Malvolio that what goes around comes around.


I'll be revenged on the whole pack of you (5.1.378)
—With these words Malvolio makes his last exit.


When that I was and a little tiny boy,
With hey, ho, the wind and the rain,
A foolish thing was but a toy,
For the rain it raineth every day (5.1.389-392)
—The opening of the song with which the Clown ends the play.


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